Category Archives: Press Releases

Minnesota Universities Rank Highly on U.S. News Best Colleges List

It’s back to school for most of us, and that means one thing: school ratings are here. U.S. News just released its annual rankings of the best national colleges, and two Minnesota universities have scored coveted spots on the highly regarded list.


Photo Credit: “Pillsbury Hall” by Mulad (Public Domain)

The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities made the top 100 at #71 overall and #26 among public schools. With campuses in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, students are just minutes away from either downtown and the urban amenities that entails. Likewise, students who make the short trek to Stadium Village get to watch the NCAA Div. I Gophers play at TCF Bank Stadium. Location and camaraderie are just two factors that contribute to the school’s 92% freshman retention rate. Another noteworthy accomplishment? The U has the nation’s #4 best undergraduate chemical engineering program among schools whose highest degree is a doctorate. Also impressive are the school’s top-ranking graduate programs: #9 for best medical school (primary care) and #27 for best business school (the Carlson School of Management).


Photo Credit: “St. Thomas Campus” by Mulad (Public Domain)

Coming in at a respectable #118 is the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. An 84% acceptance rate and low student to instructor ratio help make all Tommies feel welcome, aiding the high retention rate (currently at 88%). St. Thomas also notably tied as the 78th best college for veterans in the country.

Schools on U.S. News’ list are ranked on various indicators, including graduation and retention rates, academic reputation, and financial resources (see complete methodology here). Other Midwest universities on the list include University of Chicago (#3), Northwestern University (#11), and University of Notre Dame (#15). The full rankings can be found here.

Nene Matey-Keke Wins MAAR 2014 Realtor of the Year Award

Nene Matey-Keke, MAAR, Realtor of the Year

Most companies share a common goal of ending the year better than where they started it. RNR Realty International can certainly say they have accomplished that in 2014. The company’s principal broker and owner, Nene Matey-Keke, was recently named the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR) 2014 REALTOR® of the Year. Matey-Keke beat out more than 7,500 Twin Cities competitors to receive this prestigious award for his dedication to his clients, involvement in local and national associations, and volunteerism throughout the community.

“I was humbled and appreciative that all of my efforts to gain a better understanding of and to improve both this industry and my business have culminated in this achievement,” said Matey-Keke. “I’ve spent the better half of my lifetime trying to set forth to be the best at what I do, so to be recognized by my peers for something that I’m so passionate about is the greatest honor that I could have received.”

For those who know Matey-Keke, it’s easy to see why MAAR decided to present him with this award. Driven, determined, and dedicated are just a few words that family, friends, colleagues, and affiliates use to describe the hardworking realtor. As proof, Matey-Keke holds a total of 14 different residential and commercial real estate certifications and designations, and more than 25 additional certifications, which cover financial investment, community development, and construction.

Having been in the real estate industry for almost fifteen years, Matey-Keke has been diligent in continually building not only his multiple businesses, but also his personal knowledge as well as his ever-growing professional network, which he does partly by maintaining membership in numerous associations and committees.

At MAAR, Matey-Keke recently completed his appointment to serve on the Board of Directors and has previously been on the Finance Committee, Nominating Committee and the Young Professionals Network. He will continue his involvement with the Global Business Council and Public Affairs Committee.

At the state level, working with the Minnesota Association of REALTORS® (MNAR), Matey-Keke is on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Commercial Forms Sub Committee, Governmental Affairs Committee, Minnesota RPAC Board of Trustees, Professional Standards Committee, and is an active participant of the Strategic Planning session. He also was a founding member of the Diversity Committee and served as the 2014 Chairman. During his tenure, he spearheaded a joint partnership between MNAR and Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest as one way to address the current homeownership disparity. Junior Achievement now incorporates the value of homeownership for all in its curriculum. Matey-Keke’s commitment to improving diversity within the real estate industry has led to his appointment as treasurer of the recently created local chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America – Twin Cities (AREAA).

At the national level (National Association of REALTORS®), Matey-Keke is the Federal Political Coordinator assigned to the 5th District under Congressman Keith Ellison. He is also a member of the Global Business and Alliances Committee, Research Committee, and previously served on the Federal Financing and Housing Policy Committee, Diversity Committee, and Housing Opportunity Committee.

In addition to his extensive REALTOR® association involvement, Matey-Keke also dedicates time to developing the commercial and investment aspects of his business, by actively participating in the Minnesota Commercial Association of Realtors (MNCAR) and the Minnesota Real Estate Investment Association (MnREIA), respectively.

One of Matey-Keke’s many areas of focus is the international community. His attention to this particular market contributed greatly to his REALTOR® of the Year victory, as well as to his overall personal success. It was because of his background and interest in travelling and learning more about other cultures that he created RNR Realty to be an international business. He would like to use his recent accomplishment to push the business even farther globally, in order to help increase clients’ opportunities for relocation, purchasing resort or second properties, investment (Commercial and Residential) as well as to help make homeownership accessible to all worldwide.

In fact, it was his own personal struggle to overcome past adversity and a lack of access to information that motivates him to work with underprivileged communities today. Despite his extensive association involvement – not to mention running multiple businesses – Matey-Keke still finds time to teach first time homebuyer classes for various local organizations, including Model Cities, the African Development Center, and Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin (CAPSH). He has also spoken for the Minneapolis Urban League’s “Realizing the American Dream” class, which hits close to home.

“Being the child of two parents who have had tremendous fights to claim and acknowledge their identities, in addition to overcoming lack of access and exposure to mainstream resources, has always driven me to be the best and to take advantage of all the resources that are available to me now,” said Matey-Keke. “Rising from [my upbringing] and charting my own path with little to no guidance within the real estate industry has been difficult, to say the least. That is, until I became involved with the association. Getting more involved with the association has led me to be a better businessman and has increased my opportunities overall. Starting where I did, it’s that much more rewarding to be the first African-American to receive this honor and be recognized for having achieved a certain level of success in this industry to which I have given myself.”

Recently, Matey-Keke has also begun teaching community education classes in neighborhoods around the Twin Cities, on topics ranging from purchasing investment properties to finding the best resort and second property opportunities, locally, nationally and globally.

REALTOR® of the Year award winners are allowed to select a charitable organization to receive a $1,000 donation in their name. Matey-Keke chose MCASA Homes, a Model Cities program that provides affordable homeownership opportunities to low and moderate income families. He selected this program because he has previously worked with Model Cities, and he strongly believes in MCASA’s mission to put homeownership within everyone’s reach.

Emily Green, the 2014 MAAR President and past REALTOR® of the Year award recipient, helped name Matey-Keke as this year’s winner and presented him with the trophy.

“Nene is a REALTOR® who contributes to the community and advocates at a local, state and national level for homeownership opportunities for all,” Green explained. “His service to our industry has been invaluable and we are proud to honor him with the distinguished designation of REALTOR® of the year.”

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Minneapolis Metro Housing Market Shifts to Note in 2nd Half of 2014

This press release was originally published by PRWeb.

Home Destination finds several Minneapolis metro housing market shifts to note in the 2nd half of 2014 after the Department of Numbers and MAAR released recent Twin Cities housing data. Home Destination, a Minneapolis residential realtor with RE/MAX Results, shares the Minneapolis real estate reports and comments on what home buyers and sellers can anticipate till the year’s end.

Minneapolis, Twin Cities Minnesota (PRWEB) July 20, 2014

Minneapolis metro housing market shifts to note in the 2nd half of 2014 from reports released by theDepartment of Numbers, and MAAR reveal critical shifts in the Twin Cities housing market trends.

“Midway through the year, The Twin Cities home sales are beaten by last year’s by almost 10 percent after foul weather dampened the spring housing market season,” says Jenna Thuening, owner of Home Destination. “It is quite impressive that as Minneapolis home prices and listings continue to rise, there’s a positive optimism that the second half of the year will be strong.”

According to a report from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors for the week ending July 5, three sets of housing data show remarkable improvements.

  • The number of new real estate listings increased 14.8% to 1,269
  • Pending home sales improved 17.4% to 1,045
  • Available housing inventory increased 7.7% to 17,587

Additionally, here are 5 Shitfs in the Twin Cites Housing Market according to Home Destination’s summary of the two reports.

1. Asking Prices Homes Listed In Twin Cities Real Estate Improve

At the halfway point in July 2014, there were approximately 19,056 single-family residential homes and condo dwellings on the market for sale in Minneapolis Minnesota. The median asking price by sellers for these properties ran near $253,525, according to the report. “Since this time last year, the inventory of homes for sale has increased by 33.4%, and the median price has increased by 7.9%.”

2. Uptick in Available Twin Cities Real Estate Listings

June closed with 8,315 new Twin Cities real estate listing added to the market, making it easier for home buyers to find the home they want. If one compares the number of homes available to this time one year ago, housing inventory is up 8.9 percent. With more to choose from, Twin Cities home buyers who hoped to find what they want are pleased. While bidding wars still erupt, buyers have more choices than available in some time.

3. Upswing in Pending Sales of Traditional Homes

New consumer optimism stems from the drop in Twin Cities home foreclosures and short sales, which has weighed down several aspects of the housing market. In June, there was an inspiring up swing of 12 percent in pending sales of traditional homes, which is given credit for helping median home values rise 4.7 percent to $219,000. Overall, however, sales in June were down 2.2 percent to 5,531 sales.

4. Better Clip in the Time It Takes to Successfully Sell a Home

The month of June 2014 saw a drop from 73 days on the housing market till sale in 2013 to 71 days. That is a +2.8% improvement that permits sellers to close the deal and move on to the next home at a better pace. This means that sellers must be prepared to move to another home in less time. This indicator suggests a transition from rapid recovery toward a steady pace that should mean stability.

5. More Homeowners are Above Water With Sufficient Home Equity to Move

Housing data found back in June of 2013 places the median home sale price at $185,000. This June, Twin Cities home sellers’ median home price for a sold home was $191,550, a welcome increase of 3.5%. The average home sold for $223,503 in June 2013 and for $237,404 in June this year, a significant change of +6.2%.

“Yes there’s more inventory, but not in all areas or price points,” stated Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors president Emily Green in the June 11 article titled Twin Cities Has Largest Pool of Homes for Sale in Almost a Year. “This market has been supply-constrained for long enough, but the trend is moving in a positive direction.”

“When talking to prospective clients, most home buyers and sellers seem to be more confident about real estate. The steadiness of the Twin Cities housing market climb upwards seems more trustworthy to many than if we had astonishing highs,” adds Thuening. “Being rated again as one of the top cities to live in the entire U.S makes Minneapolis residents appreciate what we have more.”

Home Destination has been regarded as a competent Twin Cities Realtor for over 15 years. Minneapolis homeowners who are interested in selling a home can call Jenna Thuening for free, no-obligation market analysis at 612-396-7832.

Read the original press release publication on

Twin Cities Housing Trends Projected through 2040

MINNEAPOLIS — Metropolitan areas around the nation are experiencing a demographic shift, and Minneapolis and St. Paul are no different. Arthur C. Nelson, the director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, shared his insights on this developing trend at the CURA Housing Forum held Monday, June 16th at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. The presentation was attended by staff of RNR Realty International to determine how our clients’ needs will change over time and what we can do as a company to anticipate those changes.

According to Nelson, the U.S. is reorganizing itself around so-called “economic engines,” which are the main regions that dictate national economic development activity. These large urban areas – known as “megapolitans” – represent about 200 million people, or about two-thirds of America’s population, and will account for 90-95% of the country’s growth by 2050.

Our local megapolitan, the Twin Cities metro area, consists of seven counties: Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Carver, Scott and Dakota. Within Hennepin County alone, there are one million people and counting. Hennepin County, along with Ramsey County and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (what Nelson refers to as the “Central Counties”), currently compose one-third of Minnesota’s total population and this share will only increase with time.

These numbers reflect the changes that are happening across the country, brought about by increasing numbers of immigrants, aging Baby Boomers and millennials who are seeking to move to cities for better access to amenities, such as transportation, and more lifestyle opportunities.

New Majority Growth

The “New Majority” consists of all persons besides non-Latino whites, mainly immigrants and children of immigrants. Until recently, non-Latino whites have always made up the majority of the U.S. population. But with the immigrant population exponentially growing, by 2040 the seemingly paradoxical “Majority-Minority” demographic will account for 91% of population growth nationwide and 100% of the change in the Twin Cities, according to Nelson. While he didn’t go particularly in-depth with the implications of these numbers, it is true that the “New Majority” will become the socio-, political and cultural drivers of the country. Consequently, their needs will determine a great deal of future housing preferences and trends.

Kristina Kelly, RNR’s Operations and Marketing Coordinator, questioned Nelson about this change and its relation to the future of homeownership.

“I wanted to find out how the racial and ethnic disparities between the current majority and the soon-to-be ‘Majority-Minority’ will have an impact on homeownership in the future,” said Kelly. “As a real estate company, it’s important to know how these changes will affect our market.”

In response to Kelly’s question, Nelson said that this gap is mainly due to a lack of education, and that he doesn’t see there being a significant amount of growth in the future of American education to close those gaps. Nene Matey-Keke, the broker/owner of RNR and a proponent of helping members of diverse communities become homeowners, does his part to lessen the educational breach by teaching bi-monthly Home Stretch classes for first time homebuyers.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and current senior citizens will account for a whopping 95% of the household change in the Central Counties between 2010 and 2040. This change is due mostly to the fact that people within this age group are becoming empty-nesters and are losing spouses from old age and other age-related illnesses. Decreases in household size for these people leads to downsizing and moving to assisted living facilities, subsequently increasing the number of homes for sale. For example, when the first of the Baby Boomers hit 70 years old in 2016, they will start to try selling their homes in large numbers (and this trend will continue through about 2034). However, because of changing demands for households (such as an increase in households without children and people living alone), there just won’t be enough demand for the drastic increase in supply. In fact, according to Nelson, there will be an excess of about 70,000 sellers in the Twin Cities metro region alone. He suggests that policymakers need to come up with a solution to fix planning and zoning policy to soften the blow.

Household Type

Research has shown that consumers are at their peak homebuying age between 35-64 years old. However, Nelson’s study shows that this demographic will account for a mere 1% of household growth in the Twin Cities by 2040, whereas those 65 years and older will total 95% of that share. Because of high unemployment rates and low wages overall, people that will be 35-64 years old at that time simply won’t have enough money to purchase houses, much less the McMansions and suburban dream homes that have been popular for the past few decades. According to Nelson, about 70-80% of current homebuyers want single-family detached homes. However, in the future, that will no longer be the case. People will desire – and only be able to afford – homes that are much smaller, including condos and apartments, but that are closer to megapolitan centers.

Erin Reyes, the marketing and communications intern at RNR, agrees. “As a millennial, I can attest to this fact. With increasing amounts of student loan debt and a competitive job market that’s keeping much of my generation un- or underemployed, for most of us, owning a home in the suburbs no longer seems feasible – or desirable. We want to be close to jobs located in the cities, which usually means choosing condos or apartments that aren’t necessarily spacious, but offer us easy access to work, transportation and other lifestyle opportunities.”

Shrinking household sizes also play into the changing housing market. Currently, about one-third of American households have children, but by 2040 households without children will grow by 81%, and the Twin Cities number is very similar (79%). Nelson suggests that developers and builders pay close attention to all of these evolving needs of buyers and adjust their business plans accordingly.

Nelson’s report and presentation slides are now available online.



Minneapolis Real Estate Market Conditions Heading Into Summer 2014

Minneapolis Real Estate Market Conditions Heading Into Summer 2014 (via PRWeb)

Minneapolis real estate market conditions heading into summer, while mixed, offer a positive outlook for prospective home buyers and seller, according to MAAR’s summary of May’s housing data. Home Destination, a Twin Cities residential Realtor with…

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Foreign and domestic relations panel challenges disparities in homeownership

Minnesota’s changing demographics brings issues of disparity in homeownership, so on Thursday, Jan. 23, a panel of minority housing representatives sought to reduce disparities within the Twin Cities.

The panel was hosted by the Minnesota Association of Realtors (MNAR), and consisted of representatives from the Hmong, American, Native American and Gay/Lesbian communities.


“The goal of the panel was to start having a conversation about communities of color and homeownership,” said chair of the MNAR Diversity Committee, Nene Matey-Keke. “In order to do that, we had people and organizations who represent these communities come to the table to share their perspective and dialogue.”


An opening presentation by Chris Galler preceded the panel discussion. Galler talked about how ethnicity, race, stability of home life, family traditions, the economy and level of education influence home ownership. His in-depth presentation prompted many audience questions, which transitioned to the panel discussion.


According to the panel, homeownership challenges that all these communities face are rooted in the education and workforce sectors. Peoples in these communities face barriers in everything from credit issues to first-generational factors when it comes to buying a home.


“I think the answers will build over time as people start to see things transform in front of them,” said Matey-Keke. He hopes the conversation will increase to include more industries and government on all levels. “This conversation isn’t unique to Minnesota,” he said.


Over 20 people were in the audience for the event, which was $15 to attend. Panelists included Nick Yang, housing program coordinator for Hmong American Partnership; Brenda Bailey, director of real estate development for Model Cities; Bill Ziegler, president and CEO of Little Earth of United Tribes; and Barbara Satin, assistant faith work director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Nene’s Triumphant Return


After walking up a flight of stairs and into the office of the RNR Realty International, Nene Matey-Keke slowly unpacks his bag and readies himself for the day.  A loud and dense thud is heard and a few necks crane to verify the source of the uncharacteristic noise. Nene has unpacked a bound set of over three hundred business cards and they now sit in the shape of a brick on the desk of the main office.

A few days later Nene sits, the brick of business cards now sorted, once by continent and again by country, to discuss a few of the finer points of networking on trips like the one he has just returned from – this year’s National Association of REALTORS® conference in San Francisco.

“You’re exposed to relationships that no one else will have access to and it’ll help make yourself unique,” Nene says with a grin and a glance at the colossal collection of newly made contacts, before adding another thought.

“Not every person is going to meet the same two people.”

11072882225_d45b6866d1_cWhile many attendees of the annual conference set aside some time to tour the city, Nene says he simply couldn’t find the time. After his 9 a.m. flight arrival on Thursday, Nene had exactly 2 hours to leave the airport, check in at the hotel, unpack and get dressed to head downtown for his first meeting of the conference.

Nene did get the chance to sample some of the local cuisine. Nene recalls the night’s main course from Bourbon Steak at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square.

“The ribeye steak was excellent,” Nene says.

“Still not a big fan of brussel sprouts, I guess I’m still just a kid at heart.”

Nene says the chance to travel, meet new people and try new things are what he loves about the annual conference.

“I get to experience the world from another perspective,” Nene says.

“I even tried some red caviar from Russia.”

11072893794_176236a9a1_cNene also cites the opportunity to see Hillary Clinton, the conference’s keynote speaker, as a highlight of the trip. Meeting old friends, both nationally and internationally and the chance to network with new contacts were also among the most rewarding aspects of the trip for Nene.

Nene even had the good fortune of reuniting with and old friend, Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) instructor David Wyant, whom Nene took classes from while in Chicago.

Nene prides himself on his ability to cast a wide net when it comes to finding new contacts in the real estate industry. With a refocus on the emerging international markets, Nene and his company, RNR Realty International, have held strongly onto the importance of putting time and energy into creating strong international contacts.

11072947423_413e1547ec_cTwo international contacts Nene ran into and remembered from last year’s conference in Orlando were Assaf Epstein, the director of education for chambers of education in Israel and Mario Flores the president of the chamber of real estate brokers of Guatemala.

Nene also spent time discussing the residential, economic and commercial aspects of real estate as a member of the NAR Research Committee. Serving for the second time, Nene says being a member of the committee has opened him up to great insight into the current real estate trends on a national scale.

Leaning back in his chair, his pile of business cards held together by paperclips and rubber bands, ready to be added to the stack of cards collected over previous years. Nene ponders over one more question while the winds whip and the sun continues to set over the cold Minnesota fall sky. The question is about where he’d like to see the conference held someday. His answer comes with a smile and then a laugh.

“San Juan, Peurto Rico, I’d love to go there sometime.”